Most Working Part-time Continue to Be Women
January 19, 2012
Most large law firms have made part-time schedules available to their experienced lawyers for many years, but overall the number of lawyers working part-time continues to be very small, and in fact the number edged down in 2011 for the first time since NALP began compiling these figures in 1994. In 2011, just 6.2% of lawyers were working part-time, compared with 6.4% in 2010, and most of them, over 70%, were women. This reflects the fact that women are much more likely to be working part-time than men. Among women lawyers overall, 13.4% work part-time; among female partners, 11.8% are working part-time; and among women associates the figure was 10.0%. This contrasts with a rate of just 2.7% among all male lawyers. These are among the findings of the most recent analyses of the NALP Directory of Legal Employers, the annual compendium of employer information published by NALP. The 2011-2012 Directory comprises listings from primarily large law firms and includes part-time use information for 1,269 individual law offices and firms and for more than 125,000 lawyers.
The lack of part-time lawyers at law firms distinguishes private law firm practice from both the U.S. workforce as a whole and from more defined segments of the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), not quite 13.6 % of employed individuals during 2010 usually worked part-time, as did a similar percentage (13.2%) of those employed in professional specialties (e.g., engineers, architects, physicians). These rates contrast markedly with the 6.2% rate among lawyers at major law firms. However, it is worth noting that the decrease in the percentage of lawyers in large firms working part-time parallels a decline among those in professional specialties as a whole. The annual average of 13.2% for 2010 compares with 13.6% in 2009.
In 2011, nearly all law firm offices, 98%, allowed part-time schedules, either as an affirmative policy or on a case-by-case basis, but as has been the case since NALP first compiled this information in 1994, very few lawyers are working on a part-time basis, even though the percentage of offices allowing part-time schedules has increased from 86% over that time period. In 1994, just 2.4% of partners and associates were working part-time. By 2011, the number of lawyers working part-time stood at 6.2%, after reaching 6.4% in 2010. Likewise, although associates continue to be more likely to be working part-time than partners, part-time work among associates has increased only incrementally, from 4.0% in 1994 to 5.3% in 2010 and then edging down to 5.1% in 2011. The growth rate of part-time work among partners has been greater, rising from 1.2% in 1994 to 3.6% in 2010 and 3.5% in 2011. Other lawyers, such as of counsel and staff attorneys, show the highest rate of part-time work, almost 21%, compared with about 17% in 2006, the first year with comparable information. In 2011, nearly all associates working part-time (89.1%) were women; among partners working part-time, 65.8% were women. (See Table 1.) It is worth noting that, while the distribution of part-time associates among men and women has changed little over the six years that NALP has compiled this information, the distribution of part-time partners among men and women has shifted more notably: In 2006 almost 72% of part-time partners were women. In 2011 that figure was about 66%. In 2010 that figure had dropped to 64%.
NALP’s most recent data also reveal that part-time use varies a great deal by geographic location. The three largest markets — Chicago, New York City, and Washington, DC — account for just over one-third of the lawyers reflected in the Directory and show a sharp dichotomy with respect to part-time lawyers. Part-time partners are at least twice as common in both Chicago and Washington, DC — at 3.8% and 4.4%, respectively — than in New York City (1.9%) — as are women partners working part-time (about 15% in Chicago and Washington, DC, versus 6.5% in New York City). Part-time associates are also more common in Chicago (4.9%) and Washington, DC (6.1%) compared with New York City (3.4%). The percentage of women associates working part-time in Chicago and Washington, DC is 10-11%, compared with 7.0% in New York City.
Looking at all cities, the presence of part-time partners varies even more. (See Table 2.) For example, part-time partners are most common in Portland, OR, Seattle, and San Francisco, with about 8% of partners in those cities working part-time. Women part-time partners are most common in Seattle and San Francisco as well, along with Baltimore. But in a number of cities, fewer than 2% of partners are working part-time, and in half a dozen cities no male partners at all were reported as working part-time.
Cities also vary with respect to part-time associates, from about 2.4% in Kansas City and Las Vegas to more than 9% in Portland and Denver. (See Table 3.) No male associates were reported as working part-time in nine cities, including Birmingham and Columbus. The highest percentages of women associates working part-time were reported in Northern Virginia (18.3%), Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach (17.9%), and Baltimore (17.3%).
Six states, or portions of states not covered by the cities above, had sufficient information for a parallel analysis. Following the national patterns, all had higher percentages of part-time associates than part-time partners. The percentage of partners working part-time was highest in Kentucky at 4.1%, as was the percentage of women partners working part-time, at 12.3%. Connecticut, in an analysis that excludes Hartford, had the highest percentage of part-time associates at 8.3%, and the highest percentage of women associates working part-time at 13.9%.
Entry-level lawyers in search of part-time schedules found their options more limited. Nationally, almost half of offices that offered a part-time option precluded entry-level associates from using that arrangement, and just over 15% had an affirmative part-time policy that made the option available to all lawyers. Nonetheless, an entry-level lawyer’s chances of finding part-time work were somewhat higher in Cincinnati, Columbus, Boston, Denver, Hartford, Minneapolis, and Northern Virginia. The cities least likely to offer a part-time option to entry-level lawyers were Birmingham, Houston, Ft. Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, and Orlando.
|Total #||% Part-time||% Who Are Women Working Part-time||% Who Are Men Working Part-time||% of Women Working Part-time||% of Men Working Part-time||% of Part-time Lawyers Who Are Women|
*Includes counsel/of counsel, staff attorneys, and senior attorneys.
Source: 2011-2012 NALP Directory of Legal Employers
|ALL PARTNERS||% of Women Partners Working Part-time||% of Men Partners Working Part-time||% of Part-time Partners Who Are Women||# of Offices|
|# of Partners||% Part-time||% Who Are Women Working Part-time||% Who Are Men Working Part-time|
|By # of Lawyers Firm-wide|
|100 or fewer lawyers||6,126||3.3||2.0||1.3||9.8||1.6||60.4||216|
|Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach||155||1.3||0.0||1.3||0.0||1.7||0.0||10|
|Los Angeles area||2,181||3.8||2.2||1.6||11.4||2.0||57.8||74|
|New York City||7,023||1.9||1.1||0.7||6.5||0.9||60.8||121|
|Northern NJ/Newark area||1,078||1.9||1.7||0.2||9.5||0.2||90.0||22|
|Orange Co., CA||585||2.7||1.9||0.9||12.4||1.0||68.8||26|
|Portland, OR area||425||8.2||2.8||5.4||14.8||6.7||34.3||15|
|San Jose area||801||5.9||2.7||3.1||14.2||3.9||46.8||40|
|Other areas in Connecticut||266||3.8||1.5||2.3||7.1||2.9||40.0||9|
|Other areas in Florida||189||2.1||1.6||0.5||8.3||0.7||75.0||12|
|Other areas in New York State||664||2.4||2.3||0.2||12.1||0.2||93.8||13|
|Other areas in Ohio||320||0.9||0.9||0.0||5.1||0.0||100.0||9|
|Other areas in Texas||210||1.0||0.5||0.5||2.7||0.6||50.0||8|
Source: The 2011-2012 NALP Directory of Legal Employers.
For law firms that repeated firm-wide part-time counts for each office listing, counts were retained for just one office to avoid double counting. The number of offices from which use is calculated is shown in the last column. Some city information includes one or more offices in adjacent suburbs. Orange County includes offices in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach. The San Jose area includes offices in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and E. Palo Alto, Redwood Shores/Redwood City, San Jose, and Sunnyvale. The Northern New Jersey/Newark area includes offices in Newark, Roseland, West Orange, Florham Park, Hackensack, Morristown, Parsippany, Westfield, Bridgewater, and Woodbridge. Northern Virginia includes offices in Falls Church, McLean, Fairfax, Reston, Vienna, and Alexandria. State figures exclude cities reported separately.
|ALL ASSOCIATES||% of Women Associates Working Part-time||% of Men Associates Working Part-time||% of Part-time Associates Who Are Women||# of Offices|
|# of Associates||% Part-time||% Who Are Women Working Part-time||% Who Are Men Working Part-time|
|By # of Lawyers Firm-wide|
|100 or fewer lawyers||3,489||4.8||4.2||0.6||10.0||1.0||88.0||216|
|Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach||128||7.8||7.8||0.0||17.9||0.0||100.0||10|
|Los Angeles area||2,602||4.5||4.1||0.4||8.5||0.8||90.7||74|
|New York City||13,092||3.4||3.1||0.3||7.0||0.5||92.3||121|
|Northern NJ/Newark area||955||7.6||5.9||1.8||12.6||3.3||76.7||22|
|Orange Co., CA||659||4.6||4.1||0.5||11.2||0.7||90.0||26|
|Portland, OR area||205||9.3||6.3||2.9||12.7||5.8||68.4||15|
|San Jose area||1,304||6.2||5.2||1.0||12.0||1.8||84.0||40|
|Other areas in Connecticut||180||8.3||7.8||0.6||13.9||1.3||93.3||9|
|Other areas in Florida||106||2.8||2.8||0.0||6.3||0.0||100.0||12|
|Other areas in New York State||367||6.3||6.0||0.3||13.4||0.5||95.7||13|
|Other areas in Ohio||162||3.7||3.7||0.0||9.2||0.0||100.0||9|
|Other areas in Texas||131||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.0||8|
Source: The 2011-2012 NALP Directory of Legal Employers. For law firms that repeated firm-wide part-time counts for each office listing, counts were retained for just one office to avoid double counting. The number of offices from which use is calculated is shown in the last column. Some city information includes one or more offices in adjacent suburbs. Orange County includes offices in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach. The San Jose area includes offices in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and E. Palo Alto, Redwood Shores/Redwood City, San Jose, and Sunnyvale. The Northern New Jersey/Newark area includes offices in Newark, Roseland, West Orange, Florham Park, Hackensack, Morristown, Parsippany, Westfield, Bridgewater, and Woodbridge. Northern Virginia includes offices in Falls Church, McLean, Fairfax, Reston, Vienna,
and Alexandria. State figures exclude cities reported separately.
|AVAILABILITY||USE BY ALL LAWYERS||# of Offices|
|Part-time Available*||No Available to Entry-level**||Affirmative Policy Applicable to All**||# of Lawyers||% Part-time Lawyers||% of Lawyers Who Are Women Working Part-time||% of Lawyers Who Are Men Working Part-time||% of Women Lawyers Working Part-time||% of Men Lawyers Working Part-time||% of Part-time Lawyers Who Are Women|
|By # of Lawyers Firm-wide|
|100 or fewer lawyers||90.5||51.8||13.1||10,641||5.2||3.5||1.8||12.2||2.5||66.1||216|
|Ft. Lauderdale/W. Palm Beach||100.0||70.0||0.0||332||5.7||5.1||0.6||14.9||0.9||89.5||10|
|Los Angeles area||96.2||43.4||15.8||5,347||6.4||4.1||2.2||11.8||3.5||64.8||74|
|New York City||98.7||49.6||12.4||22,636||4.1||3.2||0.9||9.1||1.4||78.0||121|
|Northern NJ/Newark area||100.0||65.2||13.0||2,397||5.3||4.0||1.2||12.9||1.8||77.0||22|
|Orange Co., CA||93.1||66.7||11.1||1,316||5.4||4.1||1.3||14.8||1.8||76.1||26|
|Portland, OR area||100.0||47.1||17.7||685||9.6||4.1||5.5||14.3||7.8||42.4||15|
|San Jose area||97.9||37.0||23.9||2,286||8.0||5.2||2.9||14.9||4.4||64.1||40|
|Other areas in Connecticut||100.0||55.6||22.2||496||8.7||6.0||2.6||16.8||4.1||69.8||9|
|Other areas in Florida||100.0||60.0||0.0||319||3.1||2.2||0.9||7.4||1.3||70.0||12|
|Other areas in New York State||100.0||38.5||0.0||1,147||5.5||4.6||0.9||16.1||1.2||84.1||13|
|Other areas in Ohio||90.0||44.4||11.1||518||2.9||2.3||0.6||8.9||0.8||80.0||9|
|Other areas in Texas||100.0||80.0||10.0||412||1.7||1.5||0.2||5.2||0.3||85.7||8|
* Percentages are based on all offices and reflect availablity either as an affirmative policy or on a case-by-case basis.
** Percentages are based on offices which make part-time work available.
Source: The 2011-2012 NALP Directory of Legal Employers. For law firms that repeated firm-wide part-time counts for each office listing, counts were retained for just one office to avoid double counting. The number of offices from which use is calculated is shown in the last column. Some city information includes one or more offices in adjacent suburbs. Orange County includes offices in Costa Mesa, Irvine, and Newport Beach. The San Jose area includes offices in Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and E. Palo Alto, Redwood Shores/Redwood City, San Jose, and Sunnyvale. The Northern New Jersey/Newark area includes offices in Newark, Roseland, West Orange, Florham Park, Hackensack, Morristown, Parsippany, Westfield, Bridgewater, and Woodbridge. Northern Virginia includes offices in Falls Church, McLean, Fairfax, Reston, Vienna, and Alexandria. State figures exclude cities reported separately.